The legend of Oasis is far bigger than the eyebrows and the foul-mouthed rants of the brothers Gallagher. The legend is, as it should be, actually born from a plethora of great tunes. Only when those tunes are married up with the tabloid-fodder attitude and rock and roll swagger do you truly get to reach Oasis’ rock star status. There’s no better demonstration of that swagger than their legendary set at Knebworth in 1996.
August 10th 1996, something massive happened. Oasis, 4 lads from Manchester, with one tumultuous brotherhood at its core, took to the stage at Knebworth House for the first of their two-night residency which would not only see them play to over 250,000 people but cement their legacy as one of the greatest rock and roll acts ever. “Genuinely, now, if I close my eyes, I can’t remember walking on stage at Knebworth,” Noel Gallagher once famously said when pressed on the matter. We can’t fathom why, as for so many fans and the wider public, this was the only gig that truly mattered to the nineties.
Speaking not only to the hundreds of thousands in attendance but also the 2.5 million people who applied for tickets Noel told the crowd “This is history,” … “I thought it was Knebworth” replied Liam and as that quick-witted return would mark their cheeky attitude, the gig would also see the band at the peak of their powers. “I always thought we should have bowed out after the second night at Knebworth,” guitarist Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs told The Guardian in 2009.
The two nights were an unstoppable showcase of the band’s meteoric rise. Having only really made their name on the scene two years before they were now easily the biggest band on the planet. They had dominated Britain alongside their Britpop compatriots and had even had a crack at America. Now, they were at Knebworth and were determined to make the most of it.
They were amply supported too. The Charlatans, who were reeling from the death of their keyboardist, The Manic Street Preachers, Cast, The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, and Kula Shakar were all present over the two nights. But with all eyes on the headline slot, the crowd were ready for Oasis.
“Hello, hello, hello. Let’s go,” said Liam when taking the stage and accosted by 140,000 pairs of eyes locked on him. The band launched into the opening salvo of ‘Columbia’, ‘Acquiesce’ and ‘Supersonic’. The crowd were in raptures. The night carried on in this triumphant vein concluding with the band’s first-ever top 10 hit ‘Live Forever’.
We’re taking a look back at that moment below. So sit back and watch Oasis take on ‘Live Forever’ in front of 140,000 people at Knebworth.